Demiricous: Hoosier 'street metal' 

Band lands national deal, faces drama

Band lands national deal, faces drama

Demiricous guitarist Scott Wilson didn’t mince words when he approached Indianapolis-based promoter and manager Mark Lafay about working with his band. “Mark!” he yelled over the din at a bar. “Help my band! I got nothin’ else! I didn’t even graduate from high school for fuck’s sake! This is all I got!” A strange approach, but even stranger is that Lafay agreed to manage them.
Scott, Rodeo, Nate, Chris and Ben of Demiricous

The metal band formed several years ago when Wilson met drummer Chris Cruz at Herron School of Art & Design. The lineup was rounded out by vocalist and bassist Nate Olp and guitarist Ben Parrish, longtime friends of Wilson’s through the tight-knit Indianapolis skateboarding scene. Demiricous recorded a handful of excellent demos but was treading water, playing shows locally but doing little else. Wilson’s drunken rant proved to be a watershed moment.

On the strength of a demo recording, Lafay leveraged his success with Christian metalcore bands Haste the Day and Still Remains to spark a bidding war between some of the largest independent record labels. “It was something like eight months of negotiating contracts before we felt comfortable enough to give our lives to this,” Olp says. “It’s all the details in small print that matter most. It was a little stressful ’cause you are always afraid of gettin’ screwed. There’s so many horror stories.”

When the dust had settled, Demiricous found themselves a home on Los Angeles-based Metal Blade Records. Metal Blade might not be a household name, but their contributions to the world of heavy metal are incalculable. Their current roster is a who’s-who of Ozzfest and MTV2’s Headbanger’s Ball regulars, but label owner Brian Slagel’s place in history is secure for having released the first recorded material by Metallica and Slayer.

The band traveled to Los Angeles to meet the folks at Metal Blade and sign the contract, a trip Cruz found to be surreal. “Everyone wants to say the nicest possible thing to you … hearing Slagel talk about recording Haunting the Chapel in one night, being there with Slayer at the very beginning.”

Wilson interrupts, “Then the next day you’re back at work.” There is silence among the band members.

“It puts you right back in your place,” Cruz says.

Before the ink on the contract was dry, plans were made to spend a month recording an album with Zeuss, an engineer and producer who’s made his name working with some of the biggest names in modern heavy music, namely Hatebreed, Throwdown and Shadow’s Fall. Having never traveled extensively as a band or recorded for more than a couple of days, their time in the studio was intense.

Zeuss has a particular way of working and he drove the band hard. Olp says, “Long story short: There wasn’t any constructive criticism. But in the end the record sounds pretty good, it’s definitely up to today’s standard for sure.” Olp says the band managed to let off steam while sequestered in Hadley, Mass. “It reminded me of old Noblesville in a way … you find ways to entertain yourself and you end up making up the most fucked up games to have fun.”

The album complete, with fall tour plans in the works and Ibanez guitar advertisements featuring Parrish and Wilson hitting newsstands, everything seemed to be building towards a crescendo with the album’s release in January. But no episode of Behind the Music is complete without a little adversity.

Having already appeared at the New England Hardcore & Metal Fest, a large gathering of headbangers and stage divers in Worchester, Mass., Demiricous was scheduled to appear at Hellfest, the largest single weekend event in American heavy music. But a week prior to the event, drummer Cruz exited stage left, saying he had been steadily losing interest in the band since before they signed with Metal Blade.

The rest of Demiricous was greatly annoyed but only slightly surprised. They rehearsed almost immediately with Brian “Bob” Fouts of About the Fire and Amongst the Swarm to fill in for shows, but bad luck struck again when Hellfest was cancelled at the last minute.

Demiricous were left to mull their options for finding a long-term drummer. Dave Dalton, the drummer of Hoosier metal veterans Legion, first heard the band through a friend, former bandmate and The Dream Is Dead guitarist Jared Southwick. Legion eventually shared a stage with Demiricous, and Dalton says, “There has always been an honest, mutual respect between us all.” At 35, Dalton has a family, Legion has their own record due for release and Lafay jokes that Demiricous will be on tour for most of 2006, so there’s no telling if this is a permanent solution, but it’s one that Demiricous is happy with for now.

The album, titled One [Hellbound], is scheduled for a January release. Zeuss’ hand is apparent in the dense layers of guitars and compressed cannon-fire drums but Demiricous are not the next radio metal band to break big on the festival circuit. Stripped down, riff-driven and raw, Demiricous harkens back to the ’80s Bay Area thrash of Death Angel and Testament and the early death metal of Slayer and Obituary. Olp even coined a term to describe his band’s raw sound and distinctly Hoosier approach: street metal.

“A lot of metal is fantastic in a way,” Olp says. “I don’t care about dragons. It came down to more of a punk rock thing. Since I have to write lyrics, the only thing I can write about is shit that’s a little more real.”

Wilson sums it up succinctly: “We’re not about dragons, we’re not about the devil, we’re not about anything.”

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